Thinking of working for Amazon? Make sure you’ve got what it takes.
“Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk,” is how one Amazon employee describes how the world’s largest retailer keeps its employees on task and razor sharp.
On Saturday, The New York Times published a scathing critique of Amazon’s corporate culture, characterizing it as a cult of pressure, micromanagement, and backstabbing.
The company that’s known for pushing the limits of selling everything to everyone on earth, and delivering it on time, is known to push the limits of its employees, and freely acknowledges that working there is definitely not for everyone.
In Amazon’s own recruiting video, a young woman warns, “You either fit here or you don’t. You love it or you don’t. There is no middle ground.”
According to the New York Times article, bosses and other employees are encouraged to tear coworkers and subordinates down, finding fault with their ideas, and challenging every assertion.
At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”)
Former employee Chris Brucia described the punishing work environment. “Working at Amazon can be a bit of an acquired taste, because everyone has a different need for positive reinforcement, Brucia said. “It was hard to feel like the work we were doing was satisfactory. There are not a lot of people that last even as long as I stayed.”
In 2014, Gawker published unflattering insider reports of the company by its own employees. One employee summed it up this way, “Amazon is an amazing company. As long as you don’t work here.”
Not everyone at Amazon feels that the company mistreats its workers. Employee Nick Ciubotariu refuted the New York Times’ article in his LinkedIn blog, saying it’s claims were “completely false,” accusing the newspaper of writing “half-truths and spin spin spin,” and “complete and utter reader bait.”
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also took issue with the exposé in a memo to employees obtained by tech website GeekWire.
“I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay,” Bezos wrote. “I know I would leave such a company.”